What is a 'Yuppie'

Yuppie is a slang term denoting the market segment of young urban professionals. A yuppie is often characterized by youth, affluence and business success. They are often preppy in appearance and like to show off their success by their style and possessions.


Coined in the 1980s, the term yuppie was used as a derogatory title for young business people who were considered arrogant, undeservedly wealthy and obnoxious. Yuppies were often associated with wearing high fashion clothing, driving BMWs and gloating about their successes. The term has become less of a stereotype and now promotes the image of an affluent professional.

Yuppies tend to be educated with high-paying jobs, and they live in or near large cities. Some typical industries associated with yuppies include finance, tech, academia, and many areas in the arts, especially those associated with liberal thinking and style.

History of the Term Yuppie

There is some debate over who first coined the term yuppie, but many attribute this to Joseph Epstein, writer and former editor of The American Scholar. However, the first printed instance of yuppie was in a May 1980 issue of Chicago magazine entitled "From Yippie to Yuppie." Yippies, in stark contrast to yuppies, were affiliates of the Youth International Party, a counterculture group that emerged in the late 1960s. The term continued to grow throughout the 1980s as it was used in more newspaper and magazine articles.

After the 1987 stock market crash, the term yuppie became less political and gained more of the social implications it has today. Although its usage declined in the 1990s, it has since come back into the United States lexicon. It has been used and cited in articles, songs, movies, and other pop culture media. To name a few, the term has appeared in the novel and film Fight Club, the movie American Psycho, the satirical blog "Stuff White People Like" and the Tom Petty song "Yer So Bad."

The term yuppie isn't confined only to the United States – other countries, such as China, Russia and Mexico, have their own variations of yuppies that generally also carry the hallmark connotation of young, higher-class professionals. The term tends to spread and thrive in prospering economies.

In the 21st century, the term takes on new meaning while retaining the basic tenets of original yuppies. For example, due to the internet and growing reliance on electronic communication, the term yuppie could refer to a Silicon Valley tech worker that doesn't necessarily have the same social skills as the original yuppie, but still works for a prestigious company and makes a lot of money. This can make it harder to define yuppies, since it might not be obvious at first glance that these people have glamorous careers. Perhaps as a result, the term yuppie isn't used as widely as it was in the 1980s and early 1990s.

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